Take off your hat

Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham

I wisecracked recently to a friend about how I was watching the start of a NASCAR race on TV recently when I was struck by something that I heard the public-address announcer at the race track du jour say about how the fans in attendance needed to take off their hats for the playing of the national anthem.

His response struck me even more.

“I wouldn’t think the NASCAR crowd would need to be reminded of something like that. I thought they were supposed to be so patriotic,” his response went.

“That’s what the political pundits say, anyway,” he continued.

And then it hit me, aspiring pundit that I am – he was right. The pundits do go on and on and on about Soccer Moms and NASCAR Dads, and how they influence elections in their disparate ways.

The NASCAR Dads part of the political calculus assumes that fans of traditionally Southern auto racing vote for two things – security and patriotism.

I’m still trying to figue out the Soccer Moms.

Are they internationalists because soccer is the world’s most popular sport?

(And then you have to consider that France is good at it. That has to factor in somehow.)

Or are they for education – because to figure out why slowest game that God cursed man with the ability to devise is as appealing as it seems to be to the current generation of youth, you have to be smart as a tack?

(Zzzzz …)

I’m digressing here. My focus was on the NASCAR Dads who would I have to assume would know to take their hats off when the “American Idol” flavor of the month belts out the first notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

So why the reminder from the PA announcer?

My guess is that he’s not doing it because he likes the sound of his voice – that it has to have something to do with the supposition that folks in attendance for the big race might forget if something wasn’t said.

And just to make sure that it wasn’t a peculiar habit of one track announcer, I’ve paid attention the past few weeks – and, yep, it’s part and parcel to the prerace preamble across the board.

What I’m getting at here is that this is making me rethink the conventional wisdom of the NASCAR Dad influence on American elections.

Because if you need to be reminded to take the $5 chapeau that you picked up at Wal-Mart off your noggin before the first strains of “O say, can you see,” then you’re probably not that much of a political force to be reckoned with.



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